Not many tech companies can claim to also be health club operators. MXM, Medallia’s Partner to the Fitness Industry, can.
The company is made up of a team of people who have operated health clubs for almost 40 years, led by fitness industry veteran and MXM CEO Blair McHaney.
“When I was 14 years old I fell in love with weight training and decided I should be a gym owner,” recalled McHaney. “I spent class time as a sophomore in high school drawing gym layouts. You can imagine how sophisticated those were considering that would have been 1975.”
In 1983, McHaney’s gym layout doodles turned into reality when he and two partners opened their first gym in Wenatchee, Washington. Today they have two clubs, called Worx of Wenatchee Valley, in the state.
Those clubs serve as a testing ground for MXM, as the company seeks to relentlessly drive the adoption of Operational Member Experience Management (OMEM) best practices within health clubs, to help them create the highest level of member loyalty and greatest ROI.
“We have always felt the fitness industry serves a great purpose and that we could help lift the entire industry to a higher level of operating by focusing on the member experience and optimizing operations around the idea of delighting members, building loyalty, and becoming more resilient and profitable because of it,” said McHaney.
MXM was designed to collect real-time feedback from customers that would, in turn, allow operators to make immediate improvements within their clubs.
According to McHaney, in practice, the MXM product turns thoughts and feelings into real data and insights to make every customer visit exceptional — ultimately increasing customer loyalty.
“It is amazing to see just how truly different a company can be when they focus on the member experience and use technology to drive incremental change, team engagement and member engagement,” said McHaney. “You can take two organizations with the same size clubs, same offerings and same price. But weave the member experience into everything in one of the companies and it will become obvious to the consumer which has more value.”
MXM does much more than simply provide gyms with a Net Promoter Score (NPS). It is a fully integrated feedback system that informs gyms of the members’ purchase experience, onboarding experience, daily workout experience and the cancelation experience.
“Many club operators run an ‘NPS’ program,” explained McHaney. “They sort of bolt it onto their operations. They collect a score, respond to some members and the program remains very tactical, i.e. please give us a review.”
MXM is significantly more powerful than that, said McHaney. “We can help operators drive a member loyalty strategy,” he added. “It isn’t about the score. It isn’t about the survey. It is about what you do operationally to have an impact on the member experience. When we know what impact we want to have, we can work backwards into the actions and behaviors we need to influence. We create clarity on those behaviors with member voices and metrics that matter so your organization can act in alignment with your members’ needs and latent needs.”
Creating clarity has never been more important for health club operators today due to the volatility and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As soon as it became clear gyms could be mandated to close across the U.S. for an unknown period of time, the MXM team hunkered down to identify what solutions would be helpful to clubs to help them navigate the crisis.
This sparked the creation of a number of free products for health clubs, including the MXM Shutdown Survey, which clubs could send to members who had visited their facilities in the three weeks prior to the shutdown. The survey allowed clubs to capture feedback from the members who visited to determine key areas of concern and help clubs better prepare for reopening.
According to McHaney, member feedback was important for gyms prior to the pandemic. But post-pandemic, it’s absolutely vital.
“The heightened importance is hard to express, and the reason is there are too many dynamics,” said McHaney. “There are so many dynamics happening and the first signs that dynamics are starting to affect your member experience are going to come from an OMEM system, not a quarterly survey. You need data that is coming in continuously.”
After all, as many clubs have already experienced, what worked just a few weeks ago may no longer be relevant for your customers today.
“Don’t believe the experience you’re delivering right now is the experience you’re going to be delivering in four or five weeks,” said McHaney. “Don’t believe the initial happiness members have coming in and seeing your club bright and shiny with everything spaced out is going to sit well with them after a few months. Because again, there are dynamics happening, such as possibly more members coming in. You can’t let your guard down. You can’t claim victory. You just have to be super agile.”
And in order to be agile, you must have continuous feedback, which is where the true value of a product like MXM comes into play.
“Do not confuse an OMEM program with a survey tool or with the survey itself,” added McHaney. “Technology can enable and empower you, but the organization must take on the work of constant change. Change comes in the form of incremental innovations done continuously and based on real data.”
McHaney and the team at MXM truly practice what they preach. The advice they provide to club operators is the advice that’s implemented within Worx, for example.
“We don’t ask our customers to do things we don’t do or haven’t tried,” said McHaney. “We are the only member experience management program in the world designed completely for fitness industry operations, by fitness industry operators. This is a big factor.”
Another key differentiator for MXM is the Medallia technology itself — an infinitely configurable enterprise technology made available to the industry through MXM and McHaney’s hard work.
“We get the benefit of all the research and development of a publicly traded company that is committed to being the best in the world,” said McHaney. “Our vision is to be the most trusted service provider and most indispensable partner in the fitness industry.”
As the fitness industry continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, McHaney stressed that member experience should remain a top priority for health clubs seeking to be successful.
“No matter the size of your company, whomever is at the top of the food chain needs to take ownership of making the member experience a top priority,” said McHaney. “That means it becomes a priority everywhere. In marketing, sales, ongoing operations, programs, policies, cancelations — everywhere. Next you need to leverage technology to really know if you are actually delivering on your member experience promises. Once you have constant incoming data every day, focus on killing the biggest customer irritants. As you innovate irritants out of your organization, start getting ideas for improvements from as many sources as possible and find those to pull into your organization by making them operational.”
Today’s industry is facing never-before-seen challenges. As a result, McHaney explained MXM’s vision is also evolving.
“In the last four months, my vision is changing a bit,” said McHaney. “We still want to be the most trusted and indispensable. But now we want to really be a leader to help our entire industry thrive post-COVID. We don’t know exactly what that looks like yet, but we have a lot of early insights because of the free shutdown and reopen feedback systems we provided to the industry.”
Regardless of what future challenges face health clubs, McHaney plans for MXM to play a key role in their continued success.
“I have three big obsessions — fitness, customer/member experience and business,” said McHaney. “MXM is the nexus of those. We need to find our way back on our feet as an industry, and I think MXM should play a major role in that.”